Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham


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Plastic recycling – the do’s and don’ts

When it comes to plastics and recycling, the picture can be a bit confusing for residents all wanting to do the right thing. There are just so many different types of plastics in the world, plastics that people use everyday, which many people assume can be recycled.

Plastics come in all shapes and sizes and whilst we do ask for all your milk bottles and plastic bottles, it doesn’t necessarily mean we want every type of plastic.

So what are the plastics we don’t want? The following list details some of the items that Viridor, our current contractor and materials recovery facility operator told us they can’t recycle:

  • Laminated plastics – these can go into your refuse bin
  • CDs and cases and their transparent sleeves – charity shops or the refuse bin
  • Childrens toys – to the local Reuse and Recycling Centre or toy libary
  • Electrical appliances – to Reuse & Recycling Centre or a WEEE bank
  • Video and music cassettes – these can go into your refuse bin
Videos, music cassettes, toys, laminated documents, electrical items cannot be recycled in your green bin

Videos, music cassettes, toys, laminated documents and electrical items cannot be recycled using your green bin

New technologies have made video and music cassettes redundant but many people still have lots of these at home. These are made up of plastic, metal and tape which becomes entangled in the sorting equipment if they end up in the recycling bin. We don’t have any facilities to collect these and the nearest place to process and recycle them is in Bristol.

There are also other ways to make use of some items as well. For example CDs can be used as bird scarers if you’re a gardener or have an allotment. Freecycle could also be seen as a way finding a home for these items as local community projects might be able to use them (often projects like things with different textures and colours to create mosaics for example) or pass them on to friends and family, or sell them on online sites.

Another item that we’d like to see out of the recycling bin is clothing and textiles. Whilst we have been collecting them in the recycling bin when we were with a different contractor, the time has come to change this. We are now asking residents not to use this route and instead use our textile banks or your local charity shops.

Please take clothing to a textile banks or a charity shop

Please take clothing to a textile bank or a charity shop and avoid using your recycling bin

This is because the quality is massively reduced when clothes and textiles are put into the bin. After leaving the bin they are tipped into a truck and then tipped again and sorted at the materials recovery facility (MRF). This isn’t what you’d call a very clean operation and as you can imagine, the clothes get very dirty, smelly and reduced in quality and value. By placing textiles in our textile banks you can be sure someone will be able to enjoy the benefits of your generosity. Visit this link to see where our textile banks are, http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/textile-recycling/Pages/Textile-recycling-banks.aspx

As a general rule of thumb regarding recycling, we say that if it’s not on the sticker on your recycling bin, then please put the item into your refuse bin.

Full details here: http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/Pages/What-can-i-put-in-my-recycling-bin.aspx


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Visits to Bywaters and Closed Loop

On 16th December, 2011 a contingent from Lewisham Council visited our new dry recyclables contractor Bywaters (Leyton) Ltd. The contingent included the Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock, Cabinet member for Customer Services, Cllr Susan Wise, Executive Director for Customer Services, Kevin Sheehan and members of staff from the recycling team.

From left to right: Michael Pusey (Bywaters), Kevin Sheehan, Executive Director for Customer Services (Lewisham), John Glover (MD Bywaters), Cllr Susan Wise, Mayor Steve Bullock and David Rumble (Bywaters)

 The visit to the materials recycling facility (MRF) was a chance for everyone to see what happens to the contents of the recycling bins when they are tipped by the Council’s collection vehicles at the east London plant.

 The tour of the MRF was conducted by David Rumble, Bywaters Strategic Development Manager who explained all the different procedures that the materials have to go through to separate everything into its component parts until the final baling process at the end. To ensure that the materials are of a premium quality and therefore command higher prices, Bywaters employ two separate teams of hand sorters who pick and sort from the fast moving conveyers all the items that shouldn’t be on that particular line. The removed materials are then added to another stream for that particular material where again they are collected in bulk and then baled.

View of part of the Bywaters materials recycling facility (MRF)

 Bywaters have been very pleased with what they have received so far from Lewisham. However, that doesn’t mean that we are by any means the perfect recycling borough and always need to be vigilant when it comes to keeping on top of any potential contamination. Bins that are contaminated with food or garden waste will cause big problems at the sorting process as it will be wet and will smell and so ruin any potential for any material that has been collected and stored with it to be recycled.

 We will be working more closely with Bywaters over the contract period to implement measures to improving much of what goes into the recycling bin and also to get more people involved in the process so that we can increase tonnages.

 After the Bywaters trip, the rest of the recycling team went on to visit Closed Loop http://www.closedlooprecycling.co.uk/ in Dagenham who receive plastic bottles from Bywaters. This was a very interesting tour and gave everyone the opportunity to see how all the plastic bottles are dealt with after leaving the MRF process. We witnessed how they were able to separate the lids from the plastic bottles using a tank. In flake form, they were able to separate them as one floated and the other sank. There was a huge emphasis on running all the flakes through as many cleaning processes as possible to make sure every last trace of metal was removed as a great deal of the flakes were destined for the dairy market and the production of new milk bottles.